JLCU Represented in the CU Schools Foundation Annual Adult Spelling Bee

by January Boten

On Saturday November 8, I was able to represent JLCU at the CU Schools Foundation Annual Adult Spelling Bee.  It was a blast.  Our team consisted of myself, Cleda Wang and Andrea Fain.  We were excited when we arrived to see all of the other teams in their fun costumes ready to compete.  We were in the second round of spellers so we were able to walk around and see how the bee would work.

While we were walking around and people would find out we were from JLCU they were so excited to see us.  Several teachers told us about how much of a benefit our Junior League locker is to them.  Another teacher told us about how she attends the Festival of Trees each year and one year won a Gingerbread House that she brought to her school for the kids to enjoy.

When it was finally our time to spell we were nervous!  However, we kept getting words that we could spell and before we knew it we had won our “Swarm” and were moving on to the finals.  The finals were exciting because we were announced with all of the other Swarm winners and had to spell our words up on the stage with everyone in the room watching.  We made it through the first few rounds, but were eventually eliminated with the word “innards.”

The spelling bee was an amazing experience and it was made even more fun by being able to represent our organization and hear how much we mean to the teachers in our community.


“Shining Star” Awarded to Deserving Members at October General Member Meeting

Several wonderful JLCU members were given the “Shining Star Award” for their outstanding contributions at our October General Member Meeting this past week.

Jessie Riley, who was nominated by Laura Gerhold,  went above and beyond this month as JLCU counts down the final weeks leading up to our Festival of Trees Event.  According to Laura, “Jessie stepped in and helped to complete some last minute tasks which were vital.  She was more than willing to help, and did so with amazing results.”

Tiy Goddard nominated all four members of the Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee.  Congratulations to Vaneitta Goines, Katie Bourbeau,  Monica Hillison, and Laura Walsten for the important work they have been doing leading up to election day, November 4th.  As Tiy noted, The Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee is responsible for encouraging Junior League members to be informed, active citizens and helps to frame the public issues which affect our community.  They have been very proactive this year in creating momentum for our league to make a difference in legislature that affects our mission.

Congratulations to this month’s “Shining Star Award” recipients!

Game Night is a Big Deal…and SO FUN!

By Donica Flint

I’ve never been much for board games or for games in general, so it makes perfect sense that I’d volunteer to run Game Night, right?

Game Night is about Fun, Food, and Friends with a side of Games, particularly interactive games…we’re not playing “Monopoly” at my house, ladies. Just since February, we have found great success with “Picture Telephone” and “Cards Against Humanity”… there is no better way to bond with a group of new ladies than to see how they think, draw and choose inappropriate answers to a card game!  9 times out of 10 any singular answer to CAH can turn into an in depth conversation when you have lawyers, designers, teachers, bankers…basically about 12 very intelligent women… sitting at one table.  Every now and again we throw in Catchphrase, Scattergories, and Pictionary just to keep spicing things up.

We’re also into food and making dinner.  Between Cherie Kesler and myself there’s pasta, tacos, pizza, GOAT CHEESE, some kale salad, and I really love it when Lynn Anderson brings brownies. (Hint- if you bring treats, we tend to get giddy)  As you become a Game Night regular you will know what to expect and will find yourself texting or emailing to know what the dinner theme is so you can coordinate your snack or beverage.

We’ve been mixing things up lately this summer!  We had a Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Night in June.  Jenn Smist rocked Pictionary that night; her brain moves like lightning.  We brought out the Bags (Cornhole) in August to prep for tailgate season, and in September we had a great night painting at The Art Party Studio. I was excited to see both new members Along with some active members there for their first time. It looks like many of them will be returning in October.

And coming up in October we will be doing A Pumpkin Carving night.  Is this a game?  Yes!  Someone will win a prize for best pumpkin and we will be mixing in some adult themed Halloween games into the evening as well.  There are already 18 people signed up and we are expecting some great photos tagged to #JLCU

Game Night has become a fun way for JLCU members, new and seasoned, to meet new people, connect with members and friends, and have a fun night “out”.  We all want our experience in League to be complete with social interaction and bonding, and that’s what Game Night is all about.  The more fun you have with your fellow members, the more you will enjoy being involved in all aspects of league.

Game Night is always the 3rd Thursday of the month unless it has to change for a holiday or work related travels.
You will always find what we are doing and where we are doing it in the Tuesday Tidbits.
The evening starts around 7 pm, but we usually dine and socialize first and then enjoy games, snacks, drinks and chatting for the rest of the evening.  Join us, bring your friends and get ready to have a blast!

JLCU September Happenings…

JLCU at CU Pride Festival…
For the first time, JLCU participated in the CU Pride Festival on September 6.  It was a fun filled event with a petting zoo, parade, bands, and more.  JLCU member Ashley Morgan says, “At the Pride Festival this year, people were surprised that JLCU had a booth, but very happy that we came out and were participating in pride this year!  It was really great to hear this.”   Junior League is trying to reach out to more community groups and participating in events like CU Pride Festival is a great way to get our name out into other areas of the community.

CarX Crazy K…
This year’s CarX Crazy K was held on September 13, and this is the 4th time that JLCU was selected as an organization to receive proceeds.  Rebecca Guyette, JLCU’s Fund Development chair reported, “We made just shy of $1,000.  We are hoping for more participation next year.”  We are proud of this year’s JLCU team, who took part in the race.  Thank you, Sara Olson, Donica Flint, Emily Ochs and Katie Bourbeau!

Matzner Clinic Special Event…
Matzner Clinic, partnered with, hosted an event on September 13, collecting over $300 in cash and supplies for JLCU League Locker.   Students who attended this event were offered a scoliosis screening, backpack weigh-in, and training on how to stretch and pack their own healthy lunch.  League Locker was grateful for the contribution to our warehouse of supplies for CU’s teachers.

Fall Project Update – League Locker

The Junior League of Champaign-Urbana’s League Locker kicked off our fiscal year with an amazing $10,000 donation – the 2nd gift of this size in 2-years of school supplies from ACCO Brands Corporation. The supplies included in this donation are: Five Star 1 subject and 2 subject notebooks, Color Coded spiral notebooks, Angry Birds pencil pouches, accordion files, Five Star Flex Binders and Trapper Poly folders. “We are once again proud to support Junior League of Champaign-Urbana and the important work they do supporting teachers and students,” said Richard L. Nelson, Vice President, Corporate Communications, ACCO Brands.

Junior League Locker Chair Emily Donohoe stated, “We are again astounded by the generosity of ACCO brands’ $10,000 donation of school supplies to the Junior League Locker program this year. This donation makes it possible to help outfit Champaign and Urbana’s school children with the tools they need to succeed. We could not be more thankful!” Junior League Locker is a teacher supply store organized by the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana to provide free supplies to teachers in the Champaign and Urbana school districts. All classroom materials are provided at no cost, and are based on each school’s free and reduced lunch population. The supplies offered vary from typical school supplies, such as pens, pencils, composition books and crayons, to more unconventional supplies, such as copy paper, tote bags and toys for classroom treasure chests. Teachers are invited to shop once per quarter according to the school, thereby allowing teachers to secure materials at various times throughout the school year.

If you are a teacher in the Champaign and Urbana School districts and are wondering how many points you get to use at the JLCU League Locker, please contact our office at 217- 356-5880. In order to shop, teachers need only to bring their school ID and fill out a Supply Use Agreement*. (You must be present to shop. No one can shop on your behalf.)  The shopping sessions can be found by clicking here, as well as through the CU Schools Foundation list serve.

The Junior League of Champaign-Urbana is committed to helping children in our community go to school ready to learn. Therefore, it is important that teachers are able to provide students with supplies that their parents might not be able to provide. During the 2013-2014 school year, Junior League Locker served 445 teachers and provided approximately $30,000 of supplies to the Champaign and Urbana school districts.


Teachers waiting to get their school supplies from JLCU's League Locker - August 2014

Teachers waiting to get their school supplies from JLCU's League Locker - August 2014

Junior League Bright Starts is off to a Bright Start!

By Jenette Jurczyk
September 25, 2014

The Junior League of Champaign Urbana launched its new project, Junior League Bright Starts, on September 23rd, welcoming 19 children to the inaugural event of this important project. Working in collaboration with Urbana Early Childhood School, Junior League Bright Starts welcomed families with pre-school aged children to enjoy a complimentary dinner and an introduction to pre-school.

The pre-school programs in our community often have to waitlist children when their classes reach capacity, leaving many children at risk to miss the critical and proper introduction to a school environment prior to kindergarten. In its inaugural year, the program will provide monthly sessions to both students who are on the waitlist and their families.

For this first session, the students learned how to be good listeners when in a classroom setting. The parents were given exercises and games to engage their children at home, including a lesson on how to make homemade play-dough.   One mother of two pre-school-aged children, Clara Burton, offered her impression of the program. “It was very educational for me, to learn things to do with my kids when they are home, so I don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun with them.   There are many resources in the community that I did not know about that I can use to help me better my kids’ education.”

The first session hosted 19 children for the classroom portion of the evening. More than 50 people participated in total. Dinner was supplied by Minneci’s of Champaign.   According to project chairperson Sara Olson, “the Junior League Bright Starts committee was so happy to see the fruits of all the planning over the last two years realized, and to hear the positive responses from the families. We’re looking forward to serving more families in future sessions!”

Here’s what participants can expect when they sign up to attend a session of Junior League Bright Starts:

After receiving a complimentary dinner, the students will attend an hour-long class taught by UECS teachers and aided by JLCU volunteers. The parents attend an info session where they receive materials and information to reinforce the learning at home.   Childcare for older and younger siblings is provided, as well.

JLCU is looking forward to watching the program grow in the next few months and to see more families in the community take advantage of it. For more information on how to register, go to



First JLCU Bright Starts (9/23/2014)
First JLCU Bright Starts – Food provided by Minneci’s (9/23/2014)
First JLCU Bright Starts (9/23/2014)
First JLCU Bright Starts – Urbana Early Learning School (9/23/2014)
First JLCU Bright Starts (9/23/2014)
First JLCU Bright Starts (9/23/2014)

Welcome to League Life Blog

Welcome to the launch of Junior League of Champaign-Urbana’s League Life Blog. To enhance the Junior League experience and use social media to engage and inform our members and the community, we are turning our once quarterly report into a regular blog. We hope to provide readers with a snapshot of what’s happening in JLCU and our involvement in the community. We welcome members, sustainers, community partners, donors, fellow organizations, media and the community at large to join us as we share the best that Junior League of Champaign-Urbana has to offer.

Members, this blog will keep you informed on upcoming events and share stories and pictures of the great work our committees are doing. So, subscribe now, and check back often. And remember to share your experiences and photos with the communications committee.

We want not just to showcase the work that the League is doing as a whole, but to highlight our members who are making news and making a difference in the community. Each member of League is essential to the function and success of the organization and the community needs to know about all our achievements.

We hope members of the community will come to learn Junior League is about more than a Festival of Trees and more than a bunch of ladies talking about making an impact… and instead, how JLCU is changing lives every day in the greater Champaign-Urbana area and we mean business!

This past year, Books by the Bushel stocked the shelves of 40 area libraries with more than 300 books in Champaign, Urbana and Mahomet. Junior League Locker served 445 teachers with $30,000 worth of school supplies to provide their students with the tools they need to learn. Kids in the Kitchen educated dozens of families and children about the importance of physical fitness and nutrition. From September, 2013 – May, 2014, Junior League of CU donated almost $3,000 to organizations and schools striving to improve the education of our children. To read our entire 2014 Annual Report, click here.

Junior League spent the past two years identifying the most serious needs still facing our community and together with Urbana Early Childhood School, is getting ready to launch Junior League Bright Starts. This program will offer pre-school age children – who are waitlisted to other programs – and their families an opportunity to experience the classroom and receive materials to prepare the children for the kindergarten years.

Members of the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana have been volunteering their time and talent and have been around for over 82 years, making a lasting impact on this community. Many of our projects have become independent entities continuing to serve the community. Many people do not realize that institutions like Crisis Nursery and Backpack Buddies with the Eastern Illinois Food Bank were launched by the dedicated women of JLCU.

This is sure to be the start of another amazing year with JLCU and our new blog will keep you updated on all the exciting news along the way. We hope you enjoy the JLCU League Life Blog and that you will continue to follow us. For more information, feel free to go to our website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

League Life